On Saturday, March 29, at the upper school campus, The Harker School’s science department and the student WiSTEM Club (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) will present the ninth annual Harker Research Symposium. This prestigious event, which draws hundreds of attendees each year, serves to highlight the achievements of Harker students passionate about scientific research, as well as celebrate the wonders of research and innovation in Silicon Valley.
Harker students will give formal talks on the methods and results of the research they have done both at Harker and at collegiate and professional labs, much of which has earned recognition in the Siemens Competition and Intel Science Talent Search. The audience will include not only students and parents, but also members of the scientific community. The event is also an opportunity for middle school students to present their research through poster presentations.
Exhibitors from companies such as NVIDIA, IBM, Google and Tesla will offer glimpses at both current technology and what lies ahead, with eye-catching interactive demonstrations and displays.
New this year is the chance to test drive a Tesla, and an activity for grade 5 students, who can compete in a spontaneous STEM challenge. Returning favorites include a student/teacher panel discussion on Harker’s research program and a chemistry “magic show.”
The morning keynote speaker for this year’s research symposium is Dr. Claire Max, professor of astrophysics and director of the Center for Adaptive Optics at University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the last decade, adaptive optics technology has been used to enhance the capabilities of astronomical telescopes by correcting the blurring caused by turbulence in the atmosphere. This technology also is helping further the understanding of black holes in nearby merging galaxies. Dr. Max also will discuss the applications of this optical technology in imagining the human retina.
Ilya Sukhar ’03 will be this year’s alumni speaker. After graduating with honors from Cornell University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Sukhar worked as an engineer for the online video company Ooyala before working in product and engineering at Etact, which was acquired by Salesforce. He is now the founder and CEO of Parse, whose product greatly eases the process of creating mobile apps across multiple platforms. In 2013, Facebook acquired Parse, which is still independently operated.
This year’s keynote speaker is Salman Khan, the founder and executive director of the Khan Academy (khanacademy.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing high-quality education to people all over the world, free of charge. An MIT grad with degrees in computer science, mathematics and electrical engineering as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School, Khan began tutoring his cousin in math in 2004 while working at a hedge fund based in Boston. His clientele eventually grew to 15 family members and friends, prompting him to create software that would help its users practice the concepts they were learning. He also created YouTube videos to accompany the software. By 2009, Khan’s videos were receiving tens of thousands of views each month. Khan then decided it was time to make Khan Academy a full-time occupation. Today, Khan Academy provides thousands of learning resources, including more than 100,000 exercises and 4,000 videos, on a variety of subjects. It is now accessed by more than 6 million unique users each month, making it one of the most widely used online educational resources.
For information and a detailed schedule, please visit www.harker.org/symposium.